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From pastries to pasta, a food business is a great strategy for those with an entrepreneurial spirit and a little skill in the kitchen. Before you whip out the oven mitts and make your first sale, though, here’s a guide to starting a home-based food business.
First, you need a great business idea. If you’re reading this guide, you may already have a strategy all planned out. If so, great! However, if you’re a great cook but not particularly business savvy, you may be struggling with ideas. Here are a few small food business ideas to help you brainstorm:
The list goes on and on... you can make any idea into a viable home-based food business. Choose something you enjoy making, ask around to see if there’s a market for it, and get started on your new career!
Once you have an idea, it’s time for the fun part: picking a name for your new business!
Try not to get stuck on this part. While the name is important, you can always change it later if you need to. For now, it’s best to pick something unique that describes the product you plan to sell.
Spend about 30 minutes brainstorming ideas, then pick a few of your favorites. Do a quick Google search for that business name to make sure no one else already has it. Make sure the website domain is free, and do a trademark search before you make a final decision. You can ask for feedback from family and friends, too.
Next, consider the red tape. Nearly every location has rules and regulations regarding food, and those laws may be harder to follow when you’re working with food at home. Don’t worry, though—other businesses follow the rules, and you can too! It just takes a little planning and prepwork.
The regulations vary from one city to the next, so it’s best to contact your local city hall to see what licenses you need to start a catering business. For example, you may need a home bakery license in Ontario or a special permit in Ottawa.
If you’re wondering how to start a food business from home, don’t worry: This guide walks you through the process, step by step.
1. Brainstorm Cooking Business Ideas
Before you get started, it’s time to brainstorm ideas. At this point, you’re starting a food business checklist.
Focus on things like:
2. Fill Out the Paperwork
You’re probably ready to dive right into your home-based food business, but there are a few more steps you need to take before you start cooking.
3. Create a marketing strategy.
Before you start serving food, you need to find your customers—or help them find you. A marketing strategy helps you do that.
A good marketing plan consists of several things.
4. Create your menu and purchase equipment.
Now it’s time for the fun stuff! Create a menu and price list so customers know what to expect when they place an order. If you prefer to give pricing estimates, create your own pricing guide to make the process easier when a customer wants a quote.
You’ll also need to purchase your equipment. This varies depending on the type of food business you’re starting. At the least, you’ll need cookware, dishes, utensils, and appliances. You may also need product packaging and shipping supplies.
5. Find your vendors.
It’s best to purchase food and supplies wholesale when possible. This helps save you money, and if you’re a regular customer, you can streamline the ordering process, too. Find your vendors now so you can get set up with credit terms and other information. You don’t want to scramble for supplies last minute once you have your first orders.
6. How to Start a Catering Business From Home With No Money
If you’re reading this guide and wondering how to start a home-based food business when you have no cash, consider this:
You can always start small. While you’ll need a little capital to get started, it doesn’t have to be much. You can use the money from your first order to buy supplies for your next order, then keep rolling the cash until you have everything you need.
At a minimum, though, you should invest in permits and insurance—or stick to serving family and friends in the early days. You don’t want to face a hefty fine or lawsuit.
Once you have a little cash from your services, you can expand the business.
Are you looking for food ideas to sell from home? Maybe you love to cook, but you don’t really know which products sell best. Here are a few food business ideas for those with a small amount of capital.
Bread is one of the easiest food business opportunities. If you have a little skill, bread is easy to make, but most people don’t want to take the time to make bread from scratch themselves. The supplies and equipment are minimal, so you can keep costs low. You can make a variety of breads and sell them at different price points, too.
If you’re looking for a homemade food business idea in the Philippines, bread tends to be popular.
Prepared meals are some of the easiest food business from home ideas. People are busier than ever, but fast food and takeout aren’t nutritious and get old after a while. Consider selling prepared meals for people to heat up and eat at home. You can sell casseroles, pasta, and other simple dinners.
If you’re wondering how to start a food delivery business from home, it’s easy! Just follow the steps outlined above, then deliver the meals directly to your customers. You could also hire a meal delivery service to deliver the prepared meals for you so you can focus on the cooking.
Packaged foods offer plenty of unique food business opportunities. When you package your products, you open the door to specialty foods and services. You could sell homemade candy or chocolate, pastries, and more.
Wondering how to start a packaged food business? Just follow the steps above, then wrap your products in food-safe packaging. You can sell locally or ship across the country.
There are different rules for selling home cooked food to the public in each area. Here are a few popular cities and states, and the rules you may run into for each one.
In New York City, you will need a special permit to sell food from home. However, certain products qualify for a Home Processor Exemption. In these situations, you can sell items from your home at local agricultural venues (such as farmers’ markets).
If you plan to cook from home and sell in Illinois, there are certain rules to follow. Most farmers are exempt from special permits, but other home-based food businesses may need to apply for licensing. There are exemptions for home kitchen operations, but most local jurisdictions don’t allow the exemptions.
Cottage food operations (home-based food businesses) in Florida don’t require a specific license or permit. However, your sales can’t exceed $50,000 each year. You’re also not allowed to deliver products by mail under this exemption. You must deliver products directly to the consumer in person or via an event, such as a wedding or party.
Unfortunately, if you’re hoping to sell food from home legally online, there isn’t a set rule to follow. The permits and licenses vary from one location to the next, and you’ll need to follow the rules for each jurisdiction you serve. Start selling your homemade food online with the only ecommerce platform built for home-based food makers.
In most locations, it’s easy to start selling food from home. However, you’ll need to do your homework before you get started. Look up the laws for your area and make sure you follow them to the letter. The permits you need will depend on the type of food you’re selling, your annual sales, and your chosen delivery method.
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